A front page article in this morning's NY Times detailed how Urban Meyer, the new football coach at Ohio State, is getting a base salary of $4 million, plus yearly incentives that could total another $700,000. The Times pointed out that Meyer is making more than three times what OSU President, E. Gordon Gee, made in 2010.
I've long thought that the quality of the education you receive at a college is roughly in inverse proportion to the ratio of the head football coach's salary to the university president's salary. There are certainly exceptions: Cal, the University of Texas, and the University of Michigan are all fine schools, yet all pay top dollar to their football coaches (in all three cases, much more than the university president gets).
There is an argument to be made in favor of paying a handsome salary to a coach: a big time football program can receive a lot of money from television networks and actually turn a profit that way.
There is also an argument to be made that most university presidents themselves are empty suits, whose jobs consist primarily of meeting, greeting, and fund-raising. From what I've seen, the main qualifications for being a university president are a fine head of white hair, nice elocution, and gracious manners. Presidents are the equivalent of show captains, those fellows who have nothing to do with actually running an ocean liner but who don captains' uniforms and go around greeting the passengers. (The dean of the faculty might be considered the equivalent of the fellow who actually steers the boat.)
So perhaps the better ratio would be the football coach's salary to the average associate professor's salary.
But either ratio is a fair inverse approximation of how much emphasis is placed upon academics at any given college.